Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi believes Shinji Ono was lucky not to be sent off in the A-League on Friday.
Aloisi said the Japanese midfielder deserved to see a red card for a ‘terrible tackle’ in his side’s 2-1 loss to the Western Sydney Wanderers.
In a fiery and at times spiteful start to the match at Parramatta, Ono’s tackle on Heart midfielder Jason Hoffman was the biggest talking point and the one that left Aloisi most incensed.
Just seconds after Hoffman had brought down Wanderers right-back Jerome Polenz, Ono sought immediate retribution with a late challenge of his own.
The incident sparked a heated exchange featuring a number of players from both sides, with Ono escaping with only a yellow card.
“It was a pretty terrible tackle,” Aloisi fumed after the match.
“The one before Hoffy actually wins the ball then he (Ono) comes with his studs up over the ball.
“The referee has to make a decision. I don’t know if it was a sending off but from my angle it was a bad tackle.”
After the physical opening, it was the Wanderers who settled the quickest, going on to register back-to-back wins and their first triumph at Parramatta Stadium.
Mark Bridge’s strike and an own goal from Heart defender Patrick Gerhardt gave the home side a 2-0 lead just after half-time before Josip Tadic’s classy volley set up a tense finish.
But spurred on by the small but vocal home support the Wanderers held on to move up to fourth ahead of the visit of high-flying Newcastle next weekend.
“It’s nice to send the fans home happy,” Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said.
“They really backed us from the start going all the way back to pre-season and it was great to get the win for them.
“We were on top at 2-0 but the Heart are a tough outfit and we had to be really resilient at the end.
“At 2-1 a few of our players started to look a little nervous and we were hanging on a bit but it was brilliant to get the win and hopefully we can only get better from here.”
The Heart will also have to get better as they have now slumped to three straight defeats.
But Aloisi is refusing to panic and is confident they will turn things around once they get a few more players back from injury.
“I’d be disappointed if we were getting outplayed by the opposition but we’re not,” the Heart boss said.
“We had seven players out and had a youth (team) boy in the starting 11 so I think we did alright.
“The boys shouldn’t be too down on confidence. It’s important we keep on going, keep on believing and once we get a full squad then we’ll be very competitive as we are even with seven players out.”
The Heart get a chance to kick-start their season when they host champions Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park next Friday night.